Alexis Kruger had her future planned pretty well. She was a top student at Elk Mound High School, bound for university and a program to lead her toward medical school and a career as an anesthesiologist. But sometimes life has different plans for you.
On Tuesday, Dec. 20, Kruger was one of 14 Chippewa Valley Technical College graduates in the Information Technology-Network Specialist program and is already working for a computer network consulting firm in Eau Claire. She’s looking forward to a lighter load than life had piled on her lately.
“I’ve been going to school full-time, raising my son Archer, and working two jobs,” Kruger said.
CVTC honored 315 graduates in 38 programs at the commencement ceremony held at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena. The largest program by far was Nursing-Associate Degree with 91 graduates, followed by Business Management with 26. The graduates honored included 19 from the Nursing-Associate Degree program at the CVTC River Falls campus. In addition, 10 students received their General Education Diploma or High School Equivalency diploma.
Kruger’s path to her CVTC graduation and her new career went through UW-Eau Claire, where she studied in a pre-med program for two years. “I was paying for college myself, so I wanted to take a year off and earn some money,” Kruger said.
However, during that year, Kruger became pregnant and Archer’s birth delayed any idea of returning to school. Kruger realized she needed to get a well-paying career quickly with a less expensive option.
“I was taking one of my brothers to the Fall Open House at CVTC. He’s always been really into computer technology,” Kruger said. “That’s where I found out about the Information Technology – Network Specialist program.”
Kruger had been working in a manufacturing plant office that frequently encountered technology problems. She knew she had an affinity for dealing with technology issues. “And I thought I would get a good job from the program,” she said.
Even before graduating, Kruger was hired by Chestnut Consulting in Eau Claire. “We service clients in Wisconsin and Michigan, setting up networks and maintaining existing networks,” Kruger said. “I do help desk work and work with specific clients. There are a lot of on-site visits too.”
Between part-time work there and at Dove Healthcare as a resident assistant, she had been working 40 hours a week while going to school. She will soon be working full-time at Chestnut while continuing to be a full-time mom for Archer.
The student speaker for the commencement ceremony was one of Kruger’s fellow IT – Network Specialist graduates. Nicholas Wu had a bachelor’s degree and a good job in the finance industry, but realized he wasn’t enjoying what he was doing. He switched careers so he could do something more in line with his interests. His concluding remarks could be applied to Kruger’s experience.
“Risk is a component of progress. To be able to grow, we need to not only have plans but also think about all possibilities,” Wu said. “At the same time, we need to understand there will be many curves and detours and have the willingness to be adjustable.”
The commencement speaker was Tommy Davidson, owner of Dove Healthcare, which was honored this year as CVTC’s Proven Business Partner. His advice for the graduates: “Modle the behavior you want in others, be what it is you want in your team, connect with your people, and involve your people as much as possible. Let them lead in an effort and support them.”